A mounting body of evidence suggests that Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR) is successful in reducing the impact of posttraumatic symptoms. Although the exact mechanisms of action remain unknown, theories from the psychological to the neuroscientific continue to emerge, expand, and evolve. This study will examine four of the most prominent theories to date and weigh the evidence for and against each one. It will also review, compare, and contrast the theories, evaluate the research supporting each one, and propose the most likely explanation for EMDR's success given the state of the research. Neurobiological mechanisms and correlates as well as the controversy over the use of eye movements will also be reviewed. Implications for future research will also be discussed.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing; Post-traumatic stress disorder -- Treatment; Psychophysiology

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Louis Cozolino